medicine (or naturopathy) is based on the belief that the body can heal itself
naturally. Naturopathic medicine attempts to improve health, prevent disease,
and treat illness by promoting the use of organic foods and exercise;
encouraging a healthy, balanced lifestyle; and applying concepts and treatments
from other areas of complementary medicine (such as ayurveda, homeopathy, and
Naturopathy was developed in the late 1800s in
the United States. Today, a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) attends a 4-year,
graduate-level naturopathic medical school and studies the same basic sciences
as a medical doctor (MD). But the ND also studies alternative approaches to
therapy, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, and bodywork.
traditional naturopathic physicians (naturopaths) believe in natural therapies,
such as nutritional and lifestyle counseling. They generally avoid prescribing
medicines or performing surgery. Some naturopaths prescribe herbal medicines,
homeopathic dilutions, nutritional supplements, or perform minor surgeries. The
disagreement over specific practice guidelines and licensing requirements in
different states has led to some public confusion about the role of the
naturopathic medicine for promoting good health, preventing disease, and
treating illness. Most naturopaths can treat earaches, allergies, and other
common medical problems. Naturopathic medicine tries to find the cause of the
condition rather than focusing solely on treating symptoms. A properly trained
naturopathic physician works with other health professionals, referring people
to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.
Two common concerns about
naturopathic medicine are the use of dietary fasting and a bias against
Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative
therapy or if you are thinking about combining an alternative therapy with your
conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional
medical treatment and rely only on an alternative therapy.
Naturopathy licensing varies from state to state. Not all states require
naturopaths to be licensed. Also, not all naturopathic educational programs are
the same. Some schools grant degrees that are not accepted by state licensing
boards. In the United States, the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education
(CNME) is the only agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to
accredit naturopathic programs and colleges.
Before you choose a
naturopath, find out whether the person graduated from an accredited college.
Also check to see whether your state has licensing laws that govern the
practice of NDs. If your state licenses NDs, ask your prospective ND whether he
or she is licensed.
CitationsCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (2007). Some common misconceptions about vaccination and how to respond to them. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/6mishome.htm.
June 29, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Marc S. Micozzi, MD, PhD - Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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